Dear friends,

Without face to face contact and larger services, I am not having the same sort of conversations I remember before lockdown.  It’s frustrating.  You may be experiencing something similar.  Communication is not the same. More than that, the limitations seem to hamper our progress in friendship and as a church fellowship.

As we launch the Organ & Lighting Project, I have imagined two conversations which might have happened over in the church hall after a harvest service, in normal circumstances. These may be helpful in answering your questions, or the sort of questions which come from interested friends or neighbours.

Interested questioner: What’s wrong with the present organ? It sounds lovely to me!

Vicar, on back foot:  The organ is much loved I think, but it’s not really fit for purpose going forward.  The Diocesan Organ Adviser is clear that it has problems, and is not worth servicing or maintaining.  So the PCC agreed that replacement was our favoured option.

Questioner:  But I’ve never heard anyone complain about it.  It’s part of our history and we shouldn’t just discard it.

Vicar: We’ve been grateful for it over the years but it’s in a bad way.  The adviser said, ‘The note switching system is now time expired, the detached console requires major overhaul, and tonally the organ is really poor. It is quite inadequate and unable to support the singing of a large congregation.’  I guess we just got used to it, and didn’t realise the deterioration.

Persistent questioner: How have you come up with £55,000?  Why so much?

Vicar, doing his best, on definitely not his specialist subject:  It sounds a lot but actually it’s much cheaper than the other options, like a brand new pipe organ.  It’s more long-lasting and in keeping with a historic building than a digital organ.  It’s an organ with a lively sound to suit our dull acoustic. The cost is mainly the moving and refurbishment, and we accepted by far the most favourable reasonable quote.

Question:  Do we really need new lights?

Vicar:  I think so.

Question:  Just get better bulbs.

Vicar:  There are a few important issues.

Question:  More important than helping the poor?

Vicar:  Let me tell you a story about my previous parish.  Everyone agreed the pews were very uncomfortable, the heating system needed post-Victorian pipework, and it all needed a lick of paint.  But there was resistance to spending £60,000 of the £400,000 project budget allocated to a new lighting system.  However, afterwards, people were delighted. And the thing which delighted them most?  The thing most worth the money?  The lighting! With a warmer brighter space, and including coloured LEDs on the pillars and ceiling, the building felt new.  It transformed the place and made so many services and events that extra bit special.

Questioner needed another cup of tea.

Do ask your questions, as this Organ and Lighting Appeal has been well-discussed and carefully considered, and is now enthusiastically brought to you.

Yours prayerfully,

Canon Rob